Kenya is eyeing western and Nyanza regions to scale up production of avocado to grab a bigger piece of the growing export market pie.
The initiative by the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) is banking on the favourable weather and availability of large tracts of land in the two regions.
Director of seeds at Kalro Robert Musyoki expressed confidence that the programme, if successful, will improve Kenya’s ranking in the global production of precious health food.
“Other than Rift Valley farmers who have embraced avocado farming on a large scale, land in Central Kenya is constrained and restricting commercialisation of the crop,” he said.
As at the end of 2021, Kenya was listed among the biggest avocado-producing countries in the world at position 15. With a production of 417,000 tonnes, the country tops Africa as Mexico takes the lead with 2.4 million tonnes at the global level.
Mr Musyoki said the introduction of avocado in western Kenya is part of the government’s effort to double avocado production in the next five years from 26,000 hectares to more than 50,000 hectares.
“Farmers in the region have the competitive advantage of being served with two international airports at Kisumu and Eldoret which can be used to transport the highly perishable product,” he said.
To get a high-yielding crop that guarantees good quality and effectively competes with others in the international market, Mr Musyoki challenged farmers to plant certified seeds.
He pointed out that certified avocado seeds can be purchased at Kalro Mkulima Shop in Kibos.
Kenyan avocado exports to China hit Sh9 billion in the three months to May, defying steep competition in the market from Chile — a top producer of the fruit globally.